It’s always fun to see when a new social channel is released. There is plenty of excitement and wonderment as people try to figure out what a new tool is, where it fits and how it’s better/worse than existing tools. If there’s one thing Google is exceptional at, it’s creating a buzz around a new release. Google+ isn’t the first, as a matter of fact, it’s the 3rd (perhaps 4th) attempt at doing ‘social’. And while I think this is by far the most interesting attempt to date, I’ve now walked away. But, the reason I walked away is not because the tool isn’t interesting, it’s something much more fundamental. It’s about authentication and the really horrible user experience around it.
One of the big draws to Google for me initially was being able to host my domain and use Google Apps for my family. Yes, I am sort of a geek, but it was so easy, and enabled my family to have whatever e-mail addresses they wanted, share calendars and documents. I used the standard edition, so was able to fit my family use case very well. As Google started rolling out more services, I felt like a second class citizen, I still had to keep a separate Google account to access services like, Google Reader, Picasa, Google Voice, etc.
New Job, New Google Apps account
In February this year, I joined Yammer. Yammer uses Google Apps for its employees. This made a ton of sense, but now I have yet another Google account. This was a business account and was also tied to a single sign-on solution further complicating things.
Summer of 2011
In June 2011, I received an e-mail from Google saying they were migrating my domain to a new infrastructure that would allow me to access many of the Google Services with a single account. I was told if I do nothing, my domain would be automatically migrated on July 11, 2011. This date seemed to be cast in stone and my only course was to do the migration manually before the date. Despite the very painful migration process for my family, I saw a benefit to the process. I would finally be able to have a single personal account to access all the Google services.
Bad timing/bad planning
At almost exactly the same time, Google released Google+ and I was fortunate to get an early invite, only issue was my newly consolidated Google Apps was not compatible with Google+, so I had to re-enable my regular Google account.
On the surface, this didn’t seem too bad until I realized the complexity of it all. In order to access all of my services, I had to go into each account and configure the setting to allow multiple logins and then login to my accounts in a specific order:
1. regular Google Account
2. Personal Google Apps
3. Business Google Apps
This also created many problems for me with existing services I’ve come to rely on.
Google Reader – Subscribe button sent feeds to the wrong account. If I logged in in the wrong order, I would get the wrong Reader account and was unable to switch
Picasa – Unable to switch accounts to access pictures associated with my Google Apps account (All of them)
Even the +1 button became a challenge.
With all things considered, I decided to abandon my Google+ account until this authentication issue is resolved in a way that makes for a good user experience. I need things that make my life simpler, not more complex. Until that time, continue to catch me on Twitter.